Monday, March 27, 2006

Card Counting in Hold 'Em?

My buddy Berk went to Mohegan Sun over the weekend and played their hybrid version of Texas Hold 'Em and blackjack. Hands are played like normal in hold 'em, but each player plays individually against the house kinda like blackjack. The house never folds, so you simply have to beat its hand. Only one deck is used. Players hands are face down, but no one stopped them from sharing some information about who had what. The betting is structured so that you ante to get your pocket cards. Then you either double your ante to see the flop or fold. At that point, you can raise or call for the turn and the river.

It does take some of the fun of bluffing and the other mind games out of it, but is there an opportunity to count here? Before you even have to bet for the flop, you know 12 of the 52 cards that the house cannot be holding. Anyone want to work some numbers out and take a trip to Mohegan to try it out?


At 3:16 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

... without knowing much, I bet the casino has already studied this closely and etablished that they have a big advantage. But I'm glad to speculate on this with you.

I was at foxwoods this weekend and saw the new game too. I got cleaned out in craps... so maybe simulations only for now. :P

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Dan Craig said...

Yeah, it's hard to imagine that they'd start a new game without doing some kind of analysis to show that it's profitable and that they have a good strategy for avoiding counters.

That said, it doesn't like anything a good spreadsheet couldn't answer.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

without running any numbers here is how I see it. The game boils down to 50/50 chance of you winning. (if you never fold you should win 50% of the time as it is just luck) Unlike real hold'm you have to pay for every hand so they have a bit of your money out on the table. So by folding you are essentially giving up money (folding is just reducing your losing potential) i believe when you run the numbers you will find that the information you gain by the 12 cards you know they don't have isn't enough to make up for the intial bet you have to lay out to gain that info. I woudl be more interested to see what the optimal strategy is.. it might just be never fold and just try to hold out the for the 50/50 split to stray away from the avg.. Considering that the casino has infinite money I am sure they are happy with you doing so.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger El Jefe said...

i don't quite understand the "ante"...does the player get this money back if they lose? if they win? can you place a small ante, double to see the flop, and then raise huge on the turn/river?

whatever the case, i have no doubt that Thomas in correct in saying that the house has already run the numbers assuming that the player has perfect information (which is not a very difficult calculation) general experience is that once you get beyond the Big 2 of craps and blackjack (where the house has a meaningful but relatively small advantage), the more Out There a game is (see poker, Pai Gow), the larger the edge the House has baked in.

That being said, I am working on a 3rd version of my blackjack model, this one will be the first that is done with a practical, rather than academic goal in if only i could find somebody to show up to work for me

At 9:10 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

i watched a special on these people who develop these types of games hoping to sell them to casinos (interesting aside can you patent a set of rules for a game) They have very interesting set of requirements usually with lots of people checking the numbers. It is interesting how different games are created with goals in mind. Such as easy learning curve, ability to entertain, percieved risk, Actual odds, and other "intagibles" like good sounding side bets that the house rakes in on. I am not sure how these games interact with state gambling authorities but I am pretty sure they have to check off on them as well.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Mike said...

IMHO, it sounds like this game takes most of the fun out of Texas Hold'em. Half the joy of the game is figuring out what everyone else is holding (the other half is the b.s. table talk). You should all move to Austin and join our weekly game... we had 11 people play last week.


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